By Siska Hutapea


Cornerstone Evaluation completed the second Guam Real Estate Investment

Survey to update our April issue. The April issue was completed only weeks after the March 16 PCOR 1 lockdown. We received 59 responses from various industry leaders, an uptrend from our 51 responses in April.

It is clear that the sentiment has shifted towards a more prolonged impact of COVID-19 on our economy and the real estate industry; 75%  of respondents say that it will take more than two years for Guam’s tourism industry to recover, compared to the April survey where 65% said it will take more than 12 months.

There is always a silver lining in tough times.

Seventy percent of landlords in our survey extended rent relief to their tenants. One of my personal favorite landlords on the island noted that this pandemic is unprecedented, and he would like to see his tenants survive, for the long-term continuance of his business. Unfortunately, as noted by one of the respondents, landlords do not qualify for many grants.


Here’s what Guam’s industry leaders are saying:

  • 75% say Guam’s tourism industry will take more than two years to recover. Compared to the April survey where 68% said it will take more than 12 months to recover.
  • 80% say Guam’s economy will take more than two years to recover.
  • Compared to the April survey where 76% said it will take more than 12 months to recover.
  • 49% say Guam real estate investment is less attractive compared to April 2020, while 37% say it’s as attractive and 14% say it’s more attractive.
  • Compared to the April survey where 43% said it was less attractive, while 37% said it was as attractive and 20% said it was more attractive.
  • 80% say their real estate investment decision changes.
  • Compared to the April survey where 57% said their decision did not change nor change slightly.
  • 70% of landlords have given rent relief.
  • Our respondents include the majority of landlords in the market. We received 37 landlords out of 59 respondents.
  • 69% of tenants have received rent relief.
  • We received 16 tenants out of 59 respondents.



“Government services such as DPW and building agencies have impacted development and the construction industry. Owners, contractors, landlords and commercial tenants needing to build, renovate or repair are at the mercy of when building permits can be issued, when utility inspections can be scheduled, etc. This will drive construction costs up even more.”

“Pandemic assistance gave consumers spending money. This drove consumer spending, creating a stimulus driven economy since May 2020. Those open saw better than expected sales figured due to consumer spending, those that suffered, a double economy of business doing relatively well and others closing.”

“Until Guam is able to control its COVID positivity rate and hospital capacity and capabilities, tourism will not revive. Therefore, unemployment and business closures will continue. Economy further worsens when federal funds dry up.”

“Federal funds, if used correctly, should be able to support both the private and public impact on Guam.”

“It seems to be getting worse, not better.”

Source: Cornerstone Valuation Survey as of October 2020 and based on 59 select industry leader respondents.


We continued our efforts of evaluating the impact of COVID-19 on Guam real estate by comparing the January to September period of 2019 versus 2020. With the reopening of the Department of Land Management’s Recording Office, we learned that the severity of the impact has subsided, as observed by the sales volume now only being down by 11%, compared to 16% during the first half of 2020.  Reopening paid off.

Wouldn’t it be great to have an Economic Pulse Dashboard where all decision-makers (Government, Public and Private sectors) have instant access? The consolidated revenue report that is released every 20th of the month is a great source for this.

Let’s take for instance the state of Guam’s tourism industry following the lockdown in March 2020. It’s public knowledge that the tourism industry was heavily affected by the pandemic, but to what extend and with what evidence?

We present the data (thank you Ricky Hernandez), breaking the situation down for you. The Tourist Attraction Fund figures, which is the 11% occupancy tax that the hotels collected from their guests are shown below. In January and February, we were off to the greatest year in hotel industry. However, as the pandemic hit, the TAF continued to slide, bottoming at 90% in August. Quarantine and military business cannot replace or cover the loss of 1.6 million tourists.


The Government of Guam is doing its best to take responsibility and ensure public health and safety. The private sector is doing its best to survive this pandemic and … lockdowns.  

Socrates once said, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” 

There has got to be a common ground where we learn to coexist in this pandemic. Where does it lie? Realizing it’s a complicated matter, here are some thoughts:

  1. Intensive Public Education: Campaigning for the 3 W’s (Wash Hands, Wear Mask, Watch Distance);
  2. Opening of government offices to provide services, while enforcing policies adhering to the 3W’s;
  3. More transition to effective and efficient online services; and
  4. The overwhelming majority of businesses enforce the 3W’s. Allow them to open. mbj


— Siska S. Hutapea is the president of Cornerstone Valuation Guam Inc. She can be reached at [email protected].